Orchestra musicians to go on strike after Upstate NY residency

FILE – In this Oct. 17, 2012, file photo, the Philadelphia Orchestra rehearses with its new music director and conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin at the Kimmel Center, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Musicians authorized a strike against the Philadelphia Orchestra if bargaining breaks down for an agreement to replace the four-year deal that expires on Sept. 10.

Local 77 of the American Federation of Musicians said Sunday that 95% of voting members approved the strike authorization a day earlier. In addition to an agreement on compensation and benefits, the union said it wants 15 vacant positions filled.

Base salary in 2022-23 was $152,256, including electronic media agreement wages, the union said. Each musician received a supplemental payment of $750 or $1,500 in each year of the contract.

“We are disappointed in the decision by AFM Local 77 and the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra to authorize a strike,” management said in a statement. “We will continue to negotiate in good faith towards a fiscally responsible agreement that ensures the musicians’ economic and artistic future.”

The orchestra completed its summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Upstate New York on Saturday. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin wore a blue T-shirt supporting the union during an open rehearsal at SPAC on Aug. 11.

The 2023-24 season at Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Cultural Campus is scheduled to open Sept. 28 with Nézet-Séguin conducting a program that includes cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The orchestra filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and emerged a year later. Musicians struck on Sept. 30, 2016, causing cancellation of that season’s opening night, then announced an agreement two days later.

The orchestra last month canceled a four-concert California tour with principal guest conductor Nathalie Stutzmann scheduled for March and was replaced by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, whose music director is Stutzmann.

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